Monday, 14 November 2011

Perth - days 58 - 69

So I get to Perth – and STOP. Realised that every day I’ve been on holiday I’ve been doing something. It’s great to finally get somewhere where I can relax and chill out for a bit – especially as I’ve got around 6 weeks here. I end up staying with Ray and Shirley for 2 ½ weeks or so, and its brilliant – I have my own room and bathroom at the end of the house and I’m loving not having to live out of my rucksack. The day I arrived I emptied the whole thing – makes it so much easier not having to rummage around in the pesky thing anymore!
The first few days consists of lots of chilling out. Sitting in the sun having a beer, updating the blog or reading. The weather is pretty good at the moment, so we have a couple of BBQs. Behind the house is a massive lake, Lake Richmond. Have a wander round there one afternoon taking photos of all the pelicans. I’ve never seen so many.

Theres a decent cinema in town, so I wander down there a couple of afternoons when the weather isn’t so great. Catch “Contagion” and “The Thing” remake/prequel. It’s good to catch up on my cinema viewing, and enjoyed both films. Contagion is pretty harrowing stuff, and I really enjoyed The Thing prequel, even though it was nowhere near as great as the original.

Rockingham town is a cool little place. Very quiet, not much going on, but has a fantastic beach with very shallow water. Pop down the front when the weather is good, stand in the sea for a bit, then go and grab a beer at the beach bar. Unfortunately, Rockingham also has a rather brilliant comic shop. After my beach bar beer, I always end up in there – and end up buying something!

Do a few day trips while I’m here too. First to Point Peron, then to Penguin Island. Point Peron is a rugged bit of coast just down from Rockingham. Mad beaches, rocky sandstone outcrops and loads of random bird life, which is cool. Get wet wandering around in the sea trying to find random caves in the sea wall. Find a couple of Bobtail lizards, which Ray torments and makes angry!
Penguin Island is more of the same. It’s a small island about 10 minutes off the coast populated with thousands of seagulls, terns and pelicans. There’s a discovery centre where you can see the penguins, but apart from one wild one hopping about outside, we didn’t see any other penguins on the island. Again, the coastline of this place is pretty rugged, expect this time you get dived bombed and squawked at by loads of angry seagulls everywhere you walk. It’s like being in “The Birds”.

Manage to catch up with my other friends in these two weeks as well. First weekend I go to a BBQ at my friend Martines place. Mart is Ray and Shirleys youngest daughter, who lived in London for a good few years way back in the mid 90s. BBQ consists of copious amounts of beer and 2 MASSIVE pieces of fillet steak that are cooked in one lump, and then sliced up afterwards. Absolutely incredible.

On the first Sunday I make my way into Northbridge to meet up with Kelly and Alex. Northbridge is part of Perth central, but is separated from the city by the rail tracks. It’s populated with loads of cool restaurants and noisy bars. I’d been here 20 years previously, and it’s changed a lot. I remember it as being quite a rugged place, a bit like Camden – but it seems a lot cleaner than I remember, and there’s definitely less bars and clubs than there used to be. Meet up with Kelly an Alex and have a few beers in The Moon Bar, a weird little retro place with 50s style booths. It’s great to see them again after our US trip, and I’m glad to find out we’ve got lots planned over the six weeks I’m here. Then we go and have a Nandos, and I’m ecstatic!

In the eve I leave them to it and go and see The Dropkick Murphys and Lucero at Metro City. I go along with their mate Matt, who is there to see Lucero. Venue is a massive super club – has a great sound system, big stage, capacity looked to be about 2000, but the beers are $10 a pop! Really enjoy Lucero. Not seen them before. Kinda remind me of a more rough-and-ready Gaslight Anthem, but a bit more country round the edges. Dropkicks are disappointing though. I haven’t seen them for a while, and once they start its apparent they really aren’t the same band anymore. They’ve lost most of the punk songs from the set and mainly play their irish folky stuff. Plus they barely do anything earlier than the last three albums, which is a real shame. They eventually play “Fields Of Athenry” but I’ve got bored by this stage, and leave an hour into the set. I’m fairly sure I didn’t miss anything earth shattering! Still it was a great afternoon/evening and was cool to get to my first gig in Australia.

The second weekend I’m in Perth is also a major Kelly and Alex weekend! After a mellow Thursday night at Rifos Cafe, we’re ready for a big three days. It’s the CHOGM weekend, so theres a bank holiday on the Friday and public transport is free for two days. Thanks Queenie!

Friday we go to Fremantle. Again it’s a place I loved when I was here first time round, and it’s great to go back. I guess it’s the port part of Perth, but you’d have to check that. It’s at the end of the Swan River estuary where it meets the sea – so its surrounded by water and there always a nice breeze!
First stop is Fremantle Prison, and the “Doing Time” prison tour. The Prison is an incredible place, especially when you think it was only shut down in the 90s. Unfortunately our tour guide is a bit of an old fart, who spends most of his time embarrassing the lady tourists or rambling on about nothing until he realises that he’s running out of time and rushes us around the remainder of the prison tour. We just ignore him in the end and take our time looking at stuff. I’m shocked to see that the conditions in the prison were actually better than my hostel in Brisbane. Some of the rooms were actually bigger than my room! Final stop of the tour is the gallows room, which is particularly grim and spooky. Eventually our guide finishes the tour and we can be left to our own devices for a bit till we decide to move onto the next place, the Sail And Anchor pub.

The Sail And Anchor is a proper beer drinkers pub – they have loads of guest ales on tap and can provide a tasting palette if that takes your fancy. The barstaff will happily let you try a beer before you buy it, and they seem to know what they are talking about. The food menu is mental, and I’m definitely going to come back here at some point to have the IPA battered Fish’n’Chips. I have a Nails IPA, and its wicked. Again it’s another of their light ales – it has an IPA taste, but it’s not as heavy or hoppy as what you’d usually get. And its COLD.

Next up is Bon Scotts statue. Have a few photos posing with him, and grope his package for luck. We pop to Sweet Lips Fish’n’Chips for the BEST fish’n’chips I’ve ever had. EVER. Sidenote – they know how to do Fish’n’Chips in Aus. Not like that crumbly boring white stuff we have. It’s full on chunky tasty fish, and it’s amazing! Then it’s onto Little Creatures brewery for a final few beers. The place is PACKED as its bank holiday and we have trouble finding a seat. After a lot of faffing about, the staff sort us a table, and we settle down for a few pints. I really like the Little Creatures beers, and have been mainly drinking the Bright Ale since I’ve arrived in Perth.

Saturday the guys take me to Mount Lawley, a little suburb down the road from where they live. It’s another groovy place with some cool pubs and shops. We have a breakfast burger at Grill’d (I have to leave the chips cos I’m stuffed!), then we spend a good hour or so in Planet, a massive record/dvd/book shop. We have a brief afternoon beer in The Flying Scotsman, another great chilled out pub with music and cool barstaff, and a wander round Hyde Park, a small park in Mount Lawley with a couple of centre lakes.

In the evening, I drag Kelly and Alex to the Roller Derby at Midvale Speed Dome. I’ve been dying to see some Roller Derby action since the holiday started, and this is the first Bout that’s been happening when I’ve been in the same place. The Bout was Perth Roller Derby vs WA Roller Derby and the Northern Brisbane Rollers, and was a cracking evening. The venue was huge – so much so, the track was set up in the centre of the speed dome, so you were miles away if you decided to sit on the seats. Lucky you could stand right down at the track, and after the first few minutes, we were trackside shouting along with everyone else.
The first bout was the usual B team thing, and was great fun, but a bit of a shambles. However, the second bout was insane. Perth Roller Derby vs Northern Brisbane Rollers. Perth out up a great fight, but the NBR were incredible. There were some amazing stand out players on both sides, but NBRs Lil G Unit stood out by far, being the high scorer of the night by a mile. Although I realise now that I have to start taking more notice of the blockers from now on. I always watch the jammers, as its easier to keep up with whats going on. But if I want to start taking Roller Derby more seriously, it’s the other players I need to be keeping an eye on methinks. Spent a fortune on merch and then we went home.

Sunday was a Swan Valley Brewery Tour that Kelly had organised for us. It was run by a bunch of beer enthusiasts called GrainCru, and was impressed to see it was a pretty DIY affair. For info, they run a tour like this every couple of months. Add them on Facebook and see what they organise – highly recommended! The tatty little coach they hire was full, probably around 30 people, and the tour took in four stops. The Tap, Feral, MASH Brewing and Elmars. At each brewery we got a great selection of food and a few free beers. At The Tap, we got pizza, oysters and chicken wings and a free beer. This was a bar out in the sticks, and was basically a massive tin shack. Was a great place to start the tour, and we all had a few more cheeky beers before the next stop. Feral Brewery was my fave place, a massive lodge-type place out in the middle of nowhere. We had a lunch consisting of chunks of roast lamb, potatoes, and bread and butter cooked in the beer. Amazing. The free beers consisted of a tasting palette each – but we were getting a bit tiddly at this stage, so didn’t bother buying any extra beers. MASH was next, and was a bit of a let down. Beer was good, but the staff didn’t appear to want to bring our second free beer, and suddenly were a lot harder to get hold of when the second rounds were kicking in. Shame. The final stop was Elmars, which had a massive beer garden. The weather was really hot by this stage and was great to chill out in the shade on the grass. Food consisted of cheese and meat platters (I went round and stole all the chorizo), and we got 4 free large tasters of beer. Such a brilliant day out and was good value for $90, considering I only ended up having to buy two extra beers.

Back in Rockingham on the Monday and I’m up to Day #69 of the holiday. Have another wander down the beach in the scorching sun for another paddle and a beer. Should have made more of this day and maybe even gone for a swim. Seems the English weather that had been following me had finally caught up. The weather was about to take a turn for the worse, and ruin the awesome weather I’d had so far!

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